Til Valhalla Project is a company that makes memorial plaques in honor of fallen heroes. Korey Shaffer, a Marine Veteran, started Til Valhalla Project shortly after losing his Marine brother, Cpl Benjamin Dunston, soon after returning home from serving in Afghanistan. To help cope with his pain, Korey decided to create a memorial plaque in memory of Dunston, hoping it would help him in his mourning and ease his pain. When his pain did not subside and the plaque became too hard to look at, he decided to gift it to Cpl Dunston’s mother.
It was after that that he started getting requests to make plaques for families across the country. It was a decisive moment in his life. He thought about expanding this activity into a full-fledged project, which led him to invest in buying machines like laser engravers and table saws. The company was a source of solace for him as he did not start it to make money. Since this time in 2017, Til Valhalla Project has helped countless first responder and military families manage the pain of losing their loved ones.
1) In your own opinion, how successful is he today? Explain his accomplishments briefly over the years.
Success is an ongoing process. According to Korey, he has not even started on his road to success. He recognizes the importance of his work and the impact he is making on society. The company provides a source of livelihood for dozens of people. They are also causing the market to pay attention with a 300% YOY growth. However, bringing a meaningful change in the world requires much more than that. Thus, he still has a long road ahead of him. According to Korey, the change will truly happen when he can impact the world as broadly as the likes of Elon Musk. According to his ideals, the journey hasn’t even started.
2) What is so unique about his products, and what does he do at the company?
Til Valhalla Projects product line includes t-shirts printed with illustrations that fight against veteran suicide and honor Fallen Heroes who lost their lives. Their efforts to create awareness are more substantial than any other company. But what makes this company and its efforts special is what they do with the proceeds of their sales.
Every sale helps to commemorate the life of Fallen Heroes. When someone purchases a product on their website, a portion of the proceeds are used to create and anonymously deliver memorial plaques to the families of Fallen Heroes from all eras. The beauty is that they don’t differentiate on how they lost their life.
Soon after returning home from Afghanistan, Korey had lost one of his closest friends and many others that had fallen by their own hand. Hence, he decided to preserve the memories of his brothers-in-arms with these plaques. Four years later, he has thousands of #LEGACYGUARDIANS who take part in this mission to deliver these plaques anonymously nationwide.
Today, Til Valhalla Project is more than just a buying experience; it is a way of life where people come to help Korey steer forward his mission. Imagine being asked to deliver a plaque to a Fallen Heroes family after you buy a shirt. The feeling of making a difference is priceless, and this project is helping people experience this feeling with every purchase. Going above and beyond, they also donate 20% of net proceeds towards initiatives fighting to reduce veteran suicide.
3) Any tragedies (either professionally or personally) that he has encountered in his life? Tell us about them in detail and how he overcame them.
Tragedies are the inevitable reality of life for everyone on this planet. A look at Korey’s life, and you will see that he has experienced a lot of turmoil and losses.
His life has been mired with many tragedies. He suffered a severe back injury during his training in the Marine Corps, which continues to impact his life even today. In 2013, he faced permanent hearing loss in his right ear and sustained a severe TBI. Since then, his life has
not been easy. He suffered from severe PTSD. He has lost dozens of Marine brothers to suicide. As an aftermath of his medical issues and PTSD, he lost his job for not functioning properly. He was also plagued by crippling depression, with thoughts of suicide, and suffered from severe alcoholism.
According to Korey, his father was the strongest man he ever knew. Unfortunately, just before he could celebrate his 50th birthday, his father lost his battle to cancer; the worst part was that it happened a week before he could see his first grandchild.
Cancer engulfed his loved ones. After his father, he found out that his mother had breast cancer, and a month after his father’s tragic death, his therapy dog lost his life to cancer
One might not anticipate, but all these tragedies happened in his life before he even reached the age of 29. Through all of these tragedies, Korey learned that you have to live with it simply. Even though his past haunts him every day, he continues to be strong enough not to quit fighting. Instead, he has learned to channel his sorrow into strengths that help keep him going every day.
4) What are his hopes for his company and give-back items going forward?
As the battle of his life goes forward, so does his mission to give back more every day. The resolve of Til Valhalla Project leads them to continuously improve on and innovate new products. His goal is to commemorate every fallen Hero, be they Military, Law Enforcement, or First Responders. Korey has a target of reaching millions of Fallen Hero families with his memorial plaques, with tens of millions still needing to be donated to charity to save veteran lives. Til Valhalla Project is striving to continuously improve its operations in order to give back more to its supporters. One of the most recent items in their product line is an aluminum ingot made from retired memorial bracelets and engraved with “U.S.A, 42 Heroes, Aluminium, 10.21.21, Lot #00001”. They aim to respect everything that has the name of a fallen hero on it, and the proceeds from this bar will all go to charity.
5) Any quote or “words of wisdom” that he lives by?
“Either find a way or create a way, but never create an excuse.”
“Do whatever you want in life, just don’t hurt people.”
“Keep F’n Going and Keep Moving Forward”
“Nothing to it, but to do it.”
6) How is he making the world a better place today?
The best way to make the world a better place to live is by making efforts yourself. Personifying this philosophy, Til Valhalla Project is innovating its operations to leave a mark. However, Korey believes that they are nowhere near achieving their mission. However, the lives of veterans and the heroes they honored are for the betterment of everyone. Because of their actions today, they intend to make the legacies of the fallen heroes outlive their time by centuries. They believe that the lives they save will also make this world a better place for others. Over 1,000,000 Til Valhalla Project shirts are out there reminding people to keep moving forward and that it’s NEVER okay to quit. These shirts change lives daily, more than we will ever honestly know.
Article by Born Realist